Of all the shows in the Arrow-verse, the one that had the most to prove in its mid-season finale was The Flash. Season 3 has mostly gotten mixed reviews so far, most of them on the negative side, and the writers needed to show that villains like Alchemy and Savitar had more going on for them than what they have shown so far. It was necessary for the finale so set up a foundation for a strong second-half of this season and it turned out to be successful for the most part. The role of Trickster was reprised by Mark Hamill and that was only a footnote in what turned out to be quite an eventful episode.
Apparently, it has become a tradition of The Flash to celebrate the arrival of Christmas with an appearance by the Trickster. They definitely shook things up when they showed us the Earth-3 version of this unique and well-loved villain. Even though he had limited screen time, Hamill did an excellent job and it was the closet he ever came to playing the Joker. Another great part about his appearance was that we got to see a revival of the rivalry between John Wesley Shipp and Hamill, which had occurred in the Flash series of 1990.
But, it was frustrating that they showed so little of the character that we love so much. On the other hand, it is not just possible for him to deal with two Flashes at the same time. Luckily, Shipp got plenty of screen-time on this one. In fact, it is one of the most Shipp-heavy episode in the season so far and this extra time was undoubtedly justified. He is simply perfect in his role of Jay Garrick just like he did an excellent job playing the role of Henry Allen in the first two seasons. He possesses the gravitas and natural charm that should be seen in an elder speedster.
However, the most noticeable part is that Shipp is great at playing Jay Garrick and ensuring he is nothing like Henry Allen. Sure, he is decent, but he has an aloofness we didn’t see in Barry’s father and he is a tad awkward with Barry. Being the classic Jay Garrick, he is not very comfortable in the role of a mentor yet Barry cannot help himself and turns to him for advice. Back to the story, Alchemy/Savitar were once again back in the spotlight in The Present.
When it was revealed that Julian was Alchemy, it had seemed rather obvious and it didn’t seem right as Julian had maintained the moral high ground. Therefore, it didn’t sit well that he was skulking around in a mask and a robe all this time. Luckily, the character didn’t lose his appeal as the writers revealed that he had no idea what was happening. He is nothing but a pawn working for the self-proclaimed god of motion, Savitar. Now that Julian has been exorcised, it seems he is ready to resume his role of half antagonist and half friend to Barry.
Also, they leaned a bit too heavy on the Harry Potter references in this episode. The similarities of Julian with Draco Malfoy were rather obvious, but now they bring in the Philosopher’s Stone? Will we get to see Crabbe and Goyle next? Moving on to Savitar, even though the episode didn’t completely redeem him as a villain, it did work towards it. His character design is still ridiculous and he seems like a combination of The Reverse-Flash and Zoom. Moreover, there is still no sense in framing the third season of the show around a speedster again.
But, Savitar did get some meat, especially when he possessed Julian and talked it out with Team Flash. The character seems far scarier and monstrous when it is a disembodied voice, which goes to show that its appearance is nothing short of comical. Nonetheless, we got some insight into the character’s motivation from the scene. He is from the future and is targeting Barry because he believes that the scarlet speedster wronged him. He is definitely not a god and he is probably a member of the Team Flash because he has intimate knowledge about them. It is highly likely that Wally will end up becoming Savitar.
Another nice touch was the cryptic prophecies made by Savitar about future tragedies awaiting the team. The Flashpoint storyline is moving into the background and a new one is taking its place; can fate be rewritten or the future is inevitable? Will Caitlin become Killer Frost no matter what? Will Iris die at the hands of Savitar as we saw in Barry’s accidental visit to the future? As far as Cisco is concerned, he had his own subplot in the episode as his grief over his brother’s death was used by Savitar for his return.
Cisco’s character brings comic relief most of the time so it is nice to see a change of pace with him going through the mourning process and moving away from Barry. There was plenty of doom and gloom to go around in this episode, but the writers took their time to celebrate the holiday and wrap the year’s last episode on a good note. The episode was capped off by a Christmas party at the West family house. Wally got what he wished for; everyone’s acceptance that he is now Kid Flash and he seems rather pleased.
Caitlin ensured that everyone was able to enjoy a white Christmas instead of a snowy one. Even Julian joined in on all the fun as he decided it was time to stop being alone. HR got quite drunk on Grandma Esther’s eggnog and was the comic relief portion of the episode. Joe got on with his lady friend, another progress. Last, but not the least, Barry gave Iris a great and romantic present for this Christmas; a swanky apartment for both of them. Julian also did Barry a favor by getting him his job back so everything worked out, so far.